Brown threatens lawsuit against EPA

California is preparing to sue the federal government if it blocks the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars, state Attorney General Jerry Brown told a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing yesterday.

California set vehicle emission standards tougher than federal regulations with a 2002 law requiring automakers to reduce vehicle global warming emissions 30 percent by 2016; Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington since have adopted the same standards.

“Together we represent one-third of the population of the United States, and the people of our 12 states want to act now to combat global warming. We are not willing to wait while President Bush offers only rhetoric, excuses and delays,” Brown said. “Suing the federal government is not our first choice, but we will have no choice if our legitimate efforts to protect our planet are blocked because of partisan political games in Washington.”

California filed its request for an EPA waiver, which in the past has always been routinely granted, in December 2005. Under the Clean Air Act, California can adopt stricter standards by requesting a waiver from EPA and such requests have been approved more than 50 times in the past. Approval of California’s waiver means the other states would get approval automatically.

“Our waiver request has been pending for a year and a half, which is an unreasonable delay,” Brown said. “Our patience is wearing thin. We watch the President and his EPA acting in collusion with the auto and oil industries, while we want to take reasonable, constructive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are now preparing to sue unless we receive our waiver within a short time.”

This is a bipartisan effort, he added: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in April said he would give the EPA 180 days to reach a final decision before California sues for the right to implement its law. And both Environmental Defense and the Natural Resources Defense Council today filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA over the California law as well.

Brown is scheduled to testify today before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, chaired by California’s own Barbara Boxer.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.